Following up with part one of my series, Mapping Contortion in Japan, I continue exploring the history of contortion and body flexibility in Japan. I decided to interview Tomomi Homma, advisor of the Town Development Minami-Ward of the Niigata prefecture, to gather in-depth information about the history of the Kakubeijishi, the Lion Dance. Kakubeijishi, also known as Tsukigata Lion, Echigo Jishi, Kambara Lion or Echigo Lion, is performed by children of the Niigata prefecture who showcase acrobatic tricks such as tumbling, handstands and body flexibility with a resemblance to contortion poses. It is important to emphasize that the art of Kakubeijishi is not affiliated with the circus industry. Throughout this conversation, it is referred to by Ms. Homma as a dance and the performers are acknowledged as artists or actors. The elements of body flexibility as part of their performance, however, are a crucial aspect when looking at the history and development of body flexibility and contortion in Japan.
Mariam Ala Rashi: Thank you for taking the time and for sharing your knowledge about the Kakubeijishi with us. I would like to begin with the history and development of the Lion Dance. When did the Kakubeijishi develop exactly? ...
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